Health officials reported two new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in southwest Utah on Wednesday, bringing the total number to 89 cases since the virus hit the area last month.
© Chris Caldwell / The Spectrum & Daily News
Eric Dodge, St. George musician and country singer, visits Southgate Senior Living to perform for residents Tuesday, April 21, 2020.
Statewide, there were 110 new cases reported, bringing the total to 4,233, according to the Utah Department of Health.
For the second consecutive day, officials reported no new deaths attributed to the virus. Statewide, it has been blamed for 41 deaths, with 349 people hospitalized.
As of early Monday, the state had counted 100,195 people as having been tested. The infection rate had hovered around 5% for several weeks but has dropped recently, with only about 2.4% of newly-reported tests coming back positive on Monday.
The southwest district, which includes five counties, has seen two people die from the virus, while nine people had been hospitalized.
One victim, identified as a woman older than 60 who had underlying health conditions, died in late March. The second, reported on Saturday, was also a woman older than 60 and she also had an underlying health condition, according to the Southwest Utah Public Health Department.
No further details were released about either death.
Both of the new cases reported on Monday came out of Garfield County, according to the SUPHD. Through Monday, Washington County had seen 62 cases, Iron County 21, Kane County three and Garfield County three.
Across those counties, 59 people had officially recovered, according to the district. The county had counted results from 5,314 tests.
Officials in Washington County announced Monday that they would begin a “soft” reopening of some businesses and services, starting May 1.
The county is expected to attempt a “targeted” approach to reopening that would follow state guidelines, keeping more strict rules in place for at-risk individuals. The region’s relatively low number of cases suggested that restrictions could be safely lessened, said David Blodgett, director of the Southwest Utah Public Health Department.
U.S. officials: A coronavirus ‘plateau’
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Restrictions are unlikely to change much before Memorial Day, according to Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Inglesby told Fox News Sunday the U.S. is “near the end of the beginning” of the coronavirus pandemic but was skeptical of Vice President Mike Pence’s claim that the U.S. would “largely have this coronavirus epidemic behind us” by Memorial Day.
“I mean, trends can change over time, but at this point we have a plateau in new cases per day,” Inglesby said. “More importantly, wherever we are in the epidemic, this virus is going to be with us until we have a vaccine.”
When asked about Pence’s comment, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said, “Social distancing will be with us through the summer to really ensure that we protect one another.”
The virus has killed more than 208,000 people globally, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Three million confirmed cases have been reported, including almost 973,000 in the U.S. More than 55,000 have died in the U.S. from the virus, a number approaching the 58,220 Americans killed in the Vietnam War from 1955 to 1975
David DeMille is the content strategist and editor for The Spectrum & Daily News, a USA TODAY Network newsroom based in southern Utah. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today.
This article originally appeared on St. George Spectrum & Daily News: COVID-19 updates: 2 new coronavirus cases in Southwest Utah; 110 new cases statewide